Gender equality must be prioritized in the Caribbean

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The Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation (CFPA) joins the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day and all the women in leadership at the forefront of movements for change towards gender equality, particularly in the Caribbean.

This year’s theme: Women leaders: For an equal future in the world of COVID-19 recognizes the valiant efforts of women in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gender equality must be prioritized in the Caribbean. The burdens of poverty hit women and girls harder. Women are the majority of front-line workers in the current pandemic. Women are most likely the primary caregivers in their families – generally having to do two jobs, paid and unpaid, to keep their families afloat.

We are all aware of the high rate of violence against women in the Caribbean. The rate of girls dropping out of school due to adolescent pregnancy is also far too high.

The Caribbean needs gender equality and CFPA is proud to do the work we do in furthering the cause.

According to Rev. Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth (CEO), “There’s no hope for gender equality without empowering women and girls to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights. In order for girls to decide their own futures, they have to be properly equipped to avoid the risks of unintended pregnancy. Women must be allowed to control their bodies including how many children they want to have. Ending reproductive injustices is a key step to transforming the lives of women and girls.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing vulnerabilities of women giving them additional burdens to bear and increasing the likelihood of violence at home. Through it all, they have managed to pull through and carry all of us with them. Women continue to show the world their strength, resilience and dynamism.

Today, we celebrate the courageous women we are honoured to work with women all around the region in the fight for greater sexual and reproductive rights for Caribbean women.

These women work in our clinics, in NGOs, in government, in schools and they are nurses, doctors, teachers, mothers, activists, peer educators, friends and neighbours. Collectively, they help move the Caribbean towards gender equality by supporting CFPA’s efforts to promote and provide sexual and reproductive services to women and girls.

Through the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), we join with Family Planning Associations worldwide in our continued efforts to challenge forces that oppose and obstruct progress towards gender equality for a better world.

Let us continue to proclaim courageously that women’s rights are human rights and, concurrently, sexual and reproductive rights are human rights too! #choosetochallenge

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